How can a wife heal her hurting heart?
My years of resistance to intimacy, sexual and otherwise, were built on a foundation of my own baggage. Rather than helping to dismantle that bad foundation, Big Guy’s words and actions piled on even more stuff that I had to deal with.
Because I wasn’t aware that my baggage was anything other than just the way things were, all I could see was what my husband did. I was hurting, and as far as I could tell, it was Big Guy’s fault.
When I was full of hurt that I thought was caused by my husband, it seemed completely unfair to think that I had to take on the challenge of healing my pain. I’d already been hurting, and now I had to go through the struggle of dealing with the pain? It just didn’t make sense to my sore heart.
Every time I thought about working on myself or addressing the concerns that Big Guy expressed about our marriage, all I could think was, What about him? He is the one who hurt me, so why should I be the one to have to work on anything? And he’s the one who’s miserable with our sex life, yet he tells me I’m the problem? Why should I work on the whole sex thing if he isn’t even going to apologize for what he said or recognize how hard it’s been for me? Why does he think it should be so one-sided, with all the sacrifice on my part?
I am never surprised to hear from wives whose emails echo these same thoughts. They ask me why I don’t spend more time telling husbands what to do to heal their marriages. So this summer, that’s exactly what I did.
What about your husband?
CSL at The Curmudgeonly Librarian invited me to write a guest post (A Wife’s Heart) in response to his series on sexless marriages. My goal was to lay out recommendations for husbands about what they can do when a wife’s heart is carrying hurt—especially hurt that entered her heart as part of their relationship. (Note: This was not about hurt caused by abuse.)
I figured I’d write a guest post, respond to a few comments, and then be on my merry way. Instead, my guest post triggered an on-going conversation between CSL and me in a series of posts on his blog. Our colloquy (just a fancy word for dialogue, folks) spanned several months.
Our extended interchange got us digging into my recommendations a bit. We teased out how some of them might actually work in a marriage, and we pulled on some of the nuances. Some of my suggestions might be difficult for many husbands, but I believe that a wife’s healed heart is worth the effort.
As I answered questions and illustrated points, I spent a lot of time remembering the difficult years in our marriage. It wasn’t easy thinking back on the things that led to my feelings of hurt. I saw what I once felt through the lenses of what I now know.
Even as I remembered the things I’d hoped Big Guy would do, I saw my own mistakes as well.
I stood at the intersection of my emotions, my actions, my expectations, and my husband’s experiences. I was acquiring a clearer view of what could have been.
What about you?
Thinking intensely about hearts and healing for several months helped crystalize for me what is involved in healing a marriage burdened by relational hurt.
It takes two to develop most marriage problems. Even when one spouse is clearly at fault due to past sin, the other spouse’s response to words or actions can influence the trajectory of the marriage’s health. (I am not referring to hurt due to on-going unrepentant sin such as abuse, pornography, or infidelity. Those issues require a different approach.)
When a marriage is bruised, both spouses should be working to heal—even if one person caused the initial damage.
If you are carrying heart hurt, not only should your husband be working on things from his end, you have some work to do as well.
On CSL’s blog, I was addressing husbands about what they can do when a wife’s heart has been hurt.
Here, on this blog for wives, I ask you to consider what you can do to heal your hurting heart—even if your husband has been responsible for some of that hurt.
Over the next few posts, I will share three lessons for wives that emerged from my comments to husbands:
- Conquer complacency.
- Deal with your feelings.
- Care for your husband’s heart.
These lessons represent the biggest challenges I faced in working on my own marriage. Some of what I say may not be any easier for you to read than it is for me to write.
After experiencing the peace and joy that can come after the work of healing, however, I know how vital these lessons are in pursuing a healed marriage.
If you are carrying hurt that is blocking intimacy in your marriage, ready yourself for what will be shared in the next few posts.
Spend time in prayer. Seek God’s guidance about what you can do to experience healing. Prepare your heart to take a step forward in healing the hurt in your own heart. Reflect on mistakes you’ve made as well as mistakes your husband has made.
Even though it may not be easy to get there , the other side of the healing process is a lovely place to be.
If you’d like to read the Wife’s Heart series on CSL’s blogs, follow these links:
A Wife’s Heart
“A Wife’s Heart” Colloquy #1
“A Wife’s Heart” Colloquy #2
“A Wife’s Heart” Colloquy #3
“A Wife’s Heart” Colloquy #4
“A Wife’s Heart” Colloquy #5
“A Wife’s Heart” Colloquy #6
“A Wife’s Heart” Colloquy #7
“A Wife’s Heart”: Colloquy’s End
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